“See here Jim, this is what I found in Uncle James’ bronze treasurer chest.”
“Wow! It certainly does look like a photo of some ancient map or other, what with all those circles and diamond shapes all over the place - and so old, and tatty looking too!”
Pete had found the photo of the map when rummaging through the possessions that his uncle had left him in his will. Pete’s uncle had been a famous writer and archaeologist whose many discoveries, through his digs in the Middle East, were now in the British Museum.
“Here Jim, look at these notes he left attached to it - some of it doesn’t seem to make much sense, but this bit here does about his Bedouin friends telling him it was a map which one of their boys had found in the Qumran Caves near to the Dead Sea. The notes also reveal where Jeremiah had hidden the Ark of the Covenant and other precious Temple artifacts presumably on Mount Nebo.”
Pete elaborated more, “I got the privilege of going on a few digs with Uncle James and he never once mentioned this map - but I’m sure he must have searched for this treasure - maybe secretly! He obviously didn‘t find it!”
“What you going to do about it Pete?”
“Well, I’ve done some research and found out that it’s recorded in the Book of the Maccabees that the prophet Jeremiah buried some of the Temple treasures on Nebo - but the many searches, made to discover it, have always been unsuccessful.”
Pete went on, “I also found an obscure script by an ancient Cabalist who refuted the Mount Nebo location as a myth spread by Jeremiah’s followers to throw searchers off the scent. It hinted that the real hiding place was a cave in the hill country of Ephraim at Shiloh where the Ark had mostly rested during its use in the Tabernacle.”
“So then, I’ll ask you again, what are you going to do about it?”
“I was hoping you’d join me on a treasure hunt. We can take a few weeks’ vacation leave, leg it over there and seek out the riches - what do you say?”
Pete and Jim spent most of their flight journey studying the map. They came to the conclusion, by using a comb as a rule, that the sixteen diamond shapes were really arrow markers pointing towards the circles.
They concluded that the five circle shapes must represent caves in the mountainous area of Shiloh. Three diamond markers lined up with each of four circles and just one had four pointing at it.
“That must be the one Pete! Four markers on the middle one. That‘s got to be it.”
“Sure is mate - we’ve cracked it. Shiloh here we come!”
Pete had made all the arrangements with his late uncle’s guide team. On landing they were met and whisked off in a desert friendly four wheel drive.
Later, they were heading towards the hills. The guides conned them into sitting with their two pack asses in the trailer. After two days, the romance of it all was wearing thin.
“Pete, I haven’t much faith in these so-called desert escorts - what about you mate?”
“Uncle James could keep them in check most of the time - I’m not sure they’ll take it from me.”
After five days of searching for five caves and coming across only fox holes they were fast running out of food supplies and patience. They felt the guides had been giving them the run-a-round. They would keep saying, “They are just over this hill sirs.” Then, “No not this one sirs, but that one.”
Eventually, Pete agreed with Jim that it was time to abandon the mission. Jim said, “Please let me break the news to those shirkers over there.”
“Ok, but remember they are the ones who’ll be transporting us back to camp.”
“You better do it then mate. I expect what I have to say to them will keep till we get back to base.”
Back at base camp the two friends were all ready cheering up. “We’ll make it a real vacation. Tonight we’ll head for town and down a few beers and try our hand at seeking out a couple of dates,” said Jim.
Their search in this area was much more successful!
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